New Mexico Senate District 9 will see a new face for the 2025 session as incumbent Sen. Brenda McKenna announced last week she would not seek re-election.

After hearing that announcement, Heather Balas, of Corrales, announced Feb. 8  her candidacy for the seat in the June 4 primary election as a Democrat.

Balas, a 20-year resident of the district, has served as president and executive director of New Mexico First, which works to advance positive change in New Mexico, for more than a decade and currently serves as vice president of the Election Reformers Network, which focuses on reforms to strengthen democracy against threats and disinformation. She has also served as policy officer for the Thornburg Foundation, overseeing grants supporting transparency and ethics in New Mexico government.

“I have dedicated almost all of my career to making government work better for New Mexicans,” said Balas. “I am excited to take that experience to the state Senate to move New Mexico forward and ensure that we protect what makes our communities so special.”

Balas was named a New Mexico Woman of Influence in 2020. She has also served on various boards and committees, including that of New Mexico First, the League of Women Voters of New Mexico, the Santa Fe Data Platform advisory board, and the governing council of the Corrales International School, a public charter school organized around Spanish-language immersion.

She has contributed to reforms that strengthen New Mexico, including establishment of the state Ethics Commission, expansion of renewable energy tax credits, passage of the Hispanic Education Act, expanded water planning and drought mitigation, improving access to health care providers in underserved communities, and promoting New Mexico’s small businesses.

“I have been fortunate to be able to take a deep dive over my career into the many pressing issues affecting New Mexicans,” said Balas. “I am ready to take that knowledge and experience, along with my ability to get results, to the state Senate to ensure our kids have a world-class educational system, that hard-working New Mexicans have better jobs and better pay, that everyone has access to health care and mental health care, and that we protect our environment.”

Senate District 9 encompasses Albuquerque’s West Side, Corrales, Placitas, Bernalillo, Algodones, Sandia Pueblo and eastern Rio Rancho.